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Masters Programmes in Geomorphology, GIS and Related Topics











The M.Phil. in Quaternary Science is a one-year, full-time Masters level course. The course aims to provide an interdisciplinary education, including research experience in the Quaternary history of oceans and continents and their biota and human inhabitants, emphasising a wide range of timescales of past, as well as present and future, global change. The objectives are:
· to introduce students with a first degree background in related disciplines to global change in general, and specifically to the Quaternary history of the earth, and its implications for the future;
· to provide training in palaeoenvironmental research methods applicable to the Quaternary (and late Neogene), and related transferable skills, and to develop the capacity for undertaking independent research, in particular for students contemplating the Ph.D. Degree;
· to provide a professional education for those who need to be familiar with the current state of our understanding of global environmental change.


The primary aims of this course are to provide advanced training in the techniques whereby such multi-disciplinary EO and other spatial data are processed into new knowledge of Earth and environmental processes, and to allow students to develop strong research interests in the application of spatial information to investigation of the dynamics and interactions of components of the Earth System (lithosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere).

Much of the taught material covering applications of EO and related data focuses on quantitative analysis of change in Earth and environmental systems with reference to monitoring and modelling natural hazards but additional course modules cover archaeological remote sensing and the spatial analysis and modelling of epidemics. The programme also caters to physicists and engineers interested in applying advanced signal processing techniques to environmental problems.



Degree website

The principal elements for geographical information management (GIM) are founded upon the collection, analysis, storage and manipulation of geographical information. The course is designed around a leading-edge approach to GIM. This requires both an understanding of the context of any proposed application and the integration of the component technologies (geographical information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS) and remote sensing, field methods, statistical analysis) to produce quality-assured innovative solutions.

The course aims to provide a participant with the capability to develop advanced and quality-assured applications of Geographical Information Management (GIM) based upon emerging scientific principles and the integration of appropriate component technologies. The course objectives are:

To provide a sound understanding of the principles of remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems, Global Positioning Systems, field methods and statistical analysis

To develop to a professional level, proficiency in the use of market leading image processing and spatial analysis software

To integrate, within the context of a specific project, appropriate elements of the component technologies to produce quality-assured innovative solutions

Contact: Student Enquiries
Cranfield University,
MK45 4DT,
Tel: +44 (0) 1525 863319
Fax: +44 (0) 1525 863399



This course provides students with an advanced theoretical and practical knowledge of contemporary earth processes and environmental change. Applications to real world problems and external links are emphasised. This course builds upon the expertise of staff members from two of the Department's largest research groups: Earth Surface Systems and Quaternary Environmental Change.
Course Content: Earth Surface Processes and Materials, Environmental Change, Research Practice, Research Design, Practical Environmental Management, Dissertation.
Candidates for the MSc in Geomorphology and Environmental Change study for twelve months from October. The course is structured around six related modules, details of which can be found on the website.

With its emphasis on research training, great prominence is given to practical elements of the course: field and laboratory skills, computer analysis and modelling, research design and problem solving, and report writing. Practical Environment Management involves link partners from the industrial and commercial world, and from government agencies.

Contact: Miss Kathy Wood
Department of Geography
The University of Durham
Tel: +44 191 374 7062
Fax: +44 191 374 2456



The course is composed of a set of base and option courses which are structured to allow maximum flexibility. The base courses deal with GIS principles, including relational database methods and elements of spatial analysis. Supporting option courses cover areas such as GIS software and systems, software engineering, GIS algorithms, advanced computer cartography, remote sensing methods and the use of terrain models. Further options provide an opportunity to investigate a range of applications in the fields of public policy and decision-making, locational modelling, develop- ment planning and simulation-based studies.

In all parts of the course considerable emphasis is placed on the acquisition of specialist skills. Therefore, substantial practical work, in the form of exercises and projects using the Department of Geography UNIX / OpenVMS compute servers and workstation cluster, complements the formal lecture content of individual options.

The course work for the M.Sc. is taught between October and March; the remaining six months being devoted to an individual research project. A wide variety of research projects are possible. Recent topics have addressed theoretical issues such as parallel processing and object-oriented methods in GIS. In addition, a range of GIS applications have been considered, many projects involving co-operation with outside organisations in the public and private sectors.

Contact: Bruce M. Gittings BSc, MSc (Edin)
Co-Director, MSc in GIS
Department of Geography
University of Edinburgh
Drummond St.
Tel: + 44 131 650 2565
Fax: + 44 131 650 2524



Website link

The focus of the MSc GIS and Remote Sensing degrees is to train high quality application specialists with practical skills in a variety of commercially viable software (including ArcInfo, ERDAS Imagine, ER-MAPPER and ArcView 3) and excellent written and oral communication skills.

In June 1997 the pathways of the existing MSc GIS and Remote Sensing degrees were updated in response to the increasing integration of the two technologies. As a result of this update all students take a full syllabus of both GIS and Remote Sensing taught courses to an advanced level, their final degree classification will be determined by the nature of the final dissertation. This new programme will allow students to become familiar with a wide range of GIS and Image Processing software and to gain a deeper understanding of both subjects hence increasing their marketability after graduation.

To date all graduates, from the MSc GIS and Remote Sensing have found related employment because of the high quality of vocational training in the degrees. The new programme will further enhance the graduates marketability. The degree is composed of 8 taught courses, each with a credit weighting of 15. The final dissertation has a credit weighting of 60.

Contact: School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of Greenwich, Medway Campus
Pembroke, Chatham Maritime
Phone: +44 (0) 20 8331 9800
Fax: +44 (0) 20 8331 9805


MSc Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Management

Degree website

The M.Sc. aims to give students practical experience of a series of perspectives and techniques that will enable them to
investigate and solve environmental problems. The understanding and experience gained from the course will enable students
to progress to further environmental research within the University sector or to employment in applied environmental
management or environmental consultancy. The specific objectives of the course are:

· to develop an understanding of research design in an environmental context.
· to develop theoretical knowledge and practical experience of using field and laboratory techniques, remote sensing, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and computer models.
· to demonstrate the practical application of these techniques to a range of environmental problems.
· to develop the ability to tackle environmental problems both individually and as part of a larger research team and to efficiently present the results of these investigations.
· to give students the opportunity to be taught by practitioners and potential employers working in the fields of environmental monitoring, modelling and management.

CONTACT: Dr. Mark Mulligan
King's College London
The Strand
Tel: 00 44 20 7848 2280



Degree website

The Department of Geography first introduced a taught Diploma/M.Sc. course in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in the academic year 1988/89, and is thus one of the longest established courses in the UK. It was introduced as a direct response to the evident needs of industry for graduates with a good knowledge and understanding of GIS. It was also a natural development for a department with a growing international reputation as a centre of expertise in GIS education and research.

Since its inception the course has gained an enviable reputation for quality both in the academic community, and amongst employers in the commercial and business sectors. The HEFCE Teaching Quality Assessment conducted in 1995 rated the standards of teaching and resource allocation as "excellent". It has received recognition by the ESRC every year since 1992; and is currently granted "specialist recognition" status attracting a studentship quota allocation. It is also recognised by the NERC and receives targeted studentships from that research council too. Overseas applicants should note that the British Council approves the course.

Contact: Dr Mitch Langford
Department of Geography
The University of Leicester
Leicester LE1 7RH
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3832
Fax: +44 (0)116 252 3854



Degree website

One consequence of current interest in environmental change is an increasing concern with learning from the past - reconstructing climatic change and human impact in past environmental, ecological and human systems. The coupling of this research theme with work seeking further understanding of contemporary processes on shorter timescales, is reflected in a wide range of research initiatives within the UK, Europe and the world at large - for instance the IGBP Past Global Changes program (PAGES). The broad aims of the course team are to give you knowledge, skills and experience to a level which will enable you to undertake first-class research into the nature of recent environmental change. Therefore it serves primarily as a research training experience for appropriately qualified graduates, but also enables students from the pure science subjects to develop their interests in environmental change.

Two major elements make the structure and content of the course unique. First, the emphasis on environmental reconstruction as a means of providing long-term information on environmental processes, and second, the use of advanced research techniques, such as magnetism and radioisotopes, and atmospheric and oceanographic processes. Together these are integrated with training in meteorological processes, stratigraphic investigations, microfossil analyses and other techniques to address a large number of environmental questions concerning, for example, recent atmospheric pollution, sea-level change, human impact on climate, the links between climate and human activities, and long-term geomorphic processes and land use. A strong practical emphasis is set within the broader context of current literature on global environmental change. The course provides training in specialised techniques for those with background knowledge of environmental processes and environmental change, as well as an opportunity for well-qualified potential research students from less immediately relevant undergraduate disciplines to develop their specialist expertise alongside a growing familiarity with the full range of current work on environmental change.

Contact: Dr Jan Bloemendal
Department of Geography
The University of Liverpool
Roxby Building LIverpool, L69 7ZT
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)151 794 2874
Fax: +44 (0)151 794 2866

Email: Jan Bloemendal



Degree website

Students develop knowledge and skills in the field of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) within physical geography and environmental science, and MSc students learn to undertake and manage research projects in a selected topic. The MSc/Diploma in Geographical Information Systems equips students for employment and research in the field. The MSc/Diploma is designed to complement the MA in Geographical Information Systems which emphasises the application of GIS within human geography and planning. The course has a good employment record among past graduates and an international reputation for its distinctive focus and high quality of teaching.

Contact:Val Marrison
Room 1.34A, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9JT
Phone: +44 ((0) in UK) 113 233 3321
Fax: +44 ((0) in UK) 113 233 3308


This route is aimed at those with a need for general GIS training or specialists who require a broad coverage of the field. This route goes on to study GIS and Organisations and then permits three units to be selected from the GIS network.

This route is for those working within the areas of environmental applications or environmental project management who require training in GIS or those GIS developers/managers who wish to enter the environmental field. This route goes on to study GIS and Remote Sensing, GIS and Modelling, and Environmental Impact Assessment. One unit may be selected from the GIS network.

Contact: Department of Environmental & Geographical Sciences
Manchester Metropolitan University
Chester Street
M1 5GD
Telephone: 0161 247 3574
Facsimile: 0161 247 6318


Geographical Information Science, Msc.

Degree website

The Diploma/MSc course in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) offered by the School of Geography is intended to provide a broad theoretical and practical background in the rapidly developing field of GIS for new graduates in geography, civil engineering, architecture and planning, and for professionals working in fields such as planning, the utilities, environmental management, surveying and cartography. The broad aims of the course can be summarised as follows:

· To familiarise students with the technical and applied aspects of GIS to enable them to communicate effectively with technical specialists in the areas of GIS hardware and software
· To provide graduates with a breadth of understanding of GIS applications that is sufficient to allow them to work effectively with people from a range of disciplines and backgrounds
· To develop students' confidence in handling new problems and new developments as ideas and technology develop
· To develop presentational and communications skills so that graduates can interact with senior management, with other members of a team and with clients

Contact: School of Geography
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
Tel: +44 115 951 5428 Fax: +44 115 951 5249



Degree website

Course profile
This course is designed for both recent graduates and professionals who wish to develop expertise in the theory and practice of GIS and related quantitative methodologies. It aims to provide both the theoretical background necessary for a career in the GIS field, and the opportunity to utilise GIS methods in a variety of key application areas.
The course is closely related to the MSc in Land Information Management and Mapping. It is aimed primarily at those students wishing to undertake postgraduate training in generic GIS and related computing methods, and gain an understanding of the range of possible application areas for the technology.
The Land Information Management and Mapping course focuses more specifically on the role of GIS within the broad application areas of land information, and property/estate management.

Course structure
The course consists of two stages.
There are four core units and one option unit in Stage 1, with a core unit in Research Design and Methods and a dissertation undertaken in Stage 2.

Core units: Geographic Information Systems 1, Geographic Information Systems 2, Database Management Systems, Geographical Data Analysis. Optional units include Photogrammetry and Digital Terrain Modelling, Management and Implementation of GIS, Remote Sensing, Environmental Planning.

Contact: Geography Department
Buckingham Building
Lion Terrace
University of Portsmouth
United Kingdom
Fax : +44 (0)23 9284 2512
Tel: +44 (0)23 9284 2421



The degree programme offers comprehensive and flexible postgraduate training in the rapidly developing field of Quaternary Science, with the academic emphasis being on the time-dependent processes affecting environmental change. Flexibility is integral to the programme through its modular structure, offering a range of short courses, some of which are Core Courses that provide strong curricular coherence and essential training in transferable skills. Course modules include:

· Late Quaternary climatic gradients and validation of GCMs
· Pollen stratigraphy of the late Quaternary records in crater lakes, Central Italy
· Special Topic: high resolution studies of the UK Lateglacial
· Special Topic: Last Interglacial climatic gradients, southern Europe
· Integrity of radiocarbon measurements obtained for fossil materials
· OSL dating of glaciofluvial sediments, Greenland/Switzerland
· Genesis and properties of collapsible soils
· Leverhulme: provenance & sedimentation rates of loess in China
· British Council and NERC: loess-palaeosol sequences in China
· Leverhulme & Royal Society: loess-palaeosol sequences in Argentina and Siberia
· British Council: colllaborative research links with Germany and The Netherlands, including application of micromorphological studies
· Scottish Natural Heritage: palaeoenvironmental history and habitat reconstruction, Inner Hebrides
· Lake Baikal diatoms
· Diatom stratigraphy of Italian crater lakes
· Pollution and climate change in mountain lakes
· Special Topic: proxy climate change in the UK, last 2 kyr
· Critical loads models for acid deposition to UK freshwaters
· Antarctic lake sediments
· Micro-organism diversity in aquatic ecosystems
· Aquatic ecosystem resilience in north Africa

Contact: Professor Rob Kemp
Department of Geography
Royal Holloway
University of London
Egham, Surrey
Tel: (01784) 443649



Degree website

The Postgraduate Diploma/MSc Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course is one of a suite of innovative postgraduate courses designed jointly by the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Informatics. The other linked courses are the Postgraduate Diploma/MSc Telecommunications and Distributed Systems and the Postgraduate Diploma/MSc in Geo-Telematics, see below. The course aims to provide students with a thorough understanding and detailed knowledge of the principles and concepts of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Students will gain extensive experience in using a range of proprietary GIS software and will learn practical skills in the acquisition of both primary and secondary spatial data. On completion of the course students will have a firm grasp of information technology skills and detailed knowledge of computing technology as relevant to the implementation of GIS and particularly distributed GIS.

Applicants who will enrol for the Postgraduate Diploma in the first instance, should normally possess a good honours degree in an appropriate subject or combination of subjects, which includes a significant component of geography, environmental science, computing science or electrical/electronic engineering or a recognized professional qualification of equivalent standard or a qualification deemed to be equivalent to the above. Exceptionally, candidates who do not satisfy the above requirements but who, by virtue of considerable relevant experience at an appropriate level, can demonstrate their ability to contribute to and benefit from the course, may be admitted at the discretion of the Course Director.

Contact: University of Ulster at Coleraine
Cromore Road
BT52 1SA
Telephone: 028 7034 4141



Department website

The course is designed to cover a wide range of topics from primary data acquisition to the use of GIS in applications such as decision support systems, and to allow the deep study of selected specialisations through advanced option courses and a substantial dissertation.

The course aims to provide training and instruction so that its graduates will understand techniques of data collection and will be fully aware of the various sources of data. In particular it aims to impart a sound appreciation of the origins and the nature of the errors in data. It also aims to give solid training in the practical aspects of GIS and provides education concerning database management systems and their application within GIS.
While the environmental and socio-economic uses of GIS will be stressed, a distinctive feature of the course is the leading part taken by a department from a faculty of engineering. This results in an emphasis on the analytical aspects of GIS.
Thus at the end of the course, students should be able to:

· Explain the generic concepts in GIS
· Implement typical GIS algorithms using a high level language
· Operate at least one commercially available GIS
· Provide quality control over the acquisition of spatial data for use in GIS
· Understand the principles underlying the analysis of spatial data
· Describe the structures used for spatial data and apply query languages in relation to database management systems
· Manage data acquisition and digital mapping projects
· Undertake user requirement analyses, prepare project proposals and draft invitations to tender for projects
· Write proposals for system procurement, conduct benchmark tests, and oversee implementation programmes
· Evaluate the social and economic costs and benefits of implementing GIS
· Apply GIS in a selected specialist area.

Contact: The Secretary,
Department of Geomatic Engineering,
University College London,
Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT
Tel: (+44) 0171 504 2740
Fax: (+44) 0171 380 0453



Degree Website

Understanding Quaternary environmental change is central to Earth System Science, and is increasingly informing political debate on major environmental issues. Developing a detailed picture of global climate variability over the last two million years is crucial to predicting the nature of future climate change. The Quaternary palaeoenvironmental record can yield important clues, not only about past climates, but also the way in which we have interacted with the environment since our earliest ancestors evolved. Quaternary research makes a major contribution to understanding the complex interrelationships between people, climate and environment, providing a long-term perspective to contemporary environmental management problems. The aim of the MRes is to provide a thorough training in academic research in Quaternary science. Its distinctive feature is the strong focus on independent research, which together with advanced technical training and generic research skills, provides an excellent platform for a research-based career, in an academic, public sector or industrial context. Part 1 of the MRes is undertaken during the first semester. The module in Advanced Research Skills focuses on generic research methods such as scientific writing and data analysis, whilst Research Techniques in Quaternary Science focuses on obtaining practical experience of a range of analytical techniques. These include diatom analysis, pollen analysis, interpretation of Quaternary sediments, geochemistry, luminescence dating and tephrochronology. Part 2 focuses on the independent research project and forms two-thirds of the course assessment. Group and one-to-one sessions are used to provide support towards producing a project outline early in the course. Additional individual training is provided in specific techniques to aid students in undertaking their projects successfully. Depending on the topic, dissertations may involve extended periods of fieldwork or may be largely laboratory based. Support from supervisors, technical staff and other members of the research group, is available throughout.


Degree Website

The MSc in Environmental Monitoring and Analysis is a strongly field-based and practical course with a solid foundation in environmental geochemistry. With the emphasis of the MSc on techniques, methods and applications, the hands-on sampling and analytical experience provides you with an understanding of the appropriate strategies for collecting environmental quality data. The theoretical component provides an appreciation of the sources and the means for remediation of pollution issues, all based around environmental quality standards relevant to contamination of water and land. There is an ever-increasing demand for people with both hands-on field and laboratory skills, and a detailed understanding of the geochemistry of the environment, and the MSc equips you with these skills. The practical nature of this course makes employment in the environmental field the main career path of graduates and our past students have rapidly found employment with private environmental consultancies, the Environment Agency or water supply companies. Equally, however, this course is an excellent basis for further training, and past students have also taken up PhD studentships in environmental geochemistry. The environmental geochemistry group at Aberystwyth has 5 very well equipped, newly refurbished laboratories housing 2 ICP-MS instruments, 2 laser ablation systems, atomic absorption spectrometers, Dionex ion chromatographs, an anodic stripping voltameter for sea water analysis, a coulometer for C determinations, and all the usual sample preparation facilities. You are introduced to this equipment during taught courses in Semesters 1 and 2, and can then make use of this during your dissertation project, generally in the area of environmental geochemistry. The dissertation is conducted alongside staff and postgraduates in an active geochemical research group. Previous dissertation projects have covered aspects of metal concentrations and loadings in waters and sediments from mining-contaminated rivers across Wales, Ireland and Yorkshire, biomonitoring of metal contamination using plants, shellfish and seaweeds around the coast of the UK and Ireland, and using algal biomass and plants/grasses as a means of remediating contaminated land.


Degree Website

The MSc in River Basin Dynamics and Management is a lecture, practical, and field-based course that emphasises the vital roles of geomorphology and climate change in shaping our fluvial environments, and stresses the importance of adopting a holistic, basin-wide approach to river management. This is especially relevant given the increased hazard that river systems may pose as a result of increased flooding that is related in part to climate change, and the new EU Water Framework Directive that provides an integrated approach to the protection, improvement and sustainable use of surface water and groundwater. The Masters provides skills ideal for further academic study (e.g. for a PhD) or for careers in environmental consultancies, the Environment Agency, and other government agencies (e.g. DEFRA). Core modules provide you with a foundation of key concepts, knowledge and skills relevant to fluvial studies, including those relating to river forms and processes, information technology, and data acquisition and management. A residential field course provides ‘hands-on’ experience of past and contemporary river management issues. Optional modules provide you with the flexibility to widen your knowledge and skills base in other areas, including gaining practical experience in Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing, or with Differential Global Positioning Systems and Ground Penetrating Radar. You also carry out an independent research project that leads to the production of a dissertation. Throughout this project, you are advised on your research by a dedicated supervisor. The MSc is taught mainly by staff within the River Basin Dynamics and Hydrology Research Group, which contains one of the largest concentrations of fluvial, hydrological, and water chemistry academics in Europe. The Research Group has its own environmental consultancies (fluvio and the Centre for Research in Health and Environment) that are presently involved with several contracts around the globe. During your Masters, you will benefit from the ongoing research and commercial projects operating within the Group because you will be taught by, and liaise with, academics and consultants who are working on real environmental problems.


Degree Website

The MSc in Glaciology provides practical training in a wide variety of glaciological and related investigations. The MSc thereby gives students a wide range of skills appropriate to glaciological and glacial geomorphological investigations, as well as to wider Earth Science and Physical Geographical requirements. This techniques-based training is relevant and in demand, in-so-far as the cryosphere has a major influence on the Earth System, especially in the context of environmental change. Measuring the processes that govern the behaviour of glaciers and snow cover is not only crucial for modelling the cryospheric response to climatic change, but also for evaluating water resources, locating sand and gravel resources, and assessing landscape attributes. The MSc in Glaciology provides skills that are ideally suited to further research or to careers in environmental consultancies and government institutions, such as the British Geological Society and the Environment Agency. To this end, you will gain direct experience of a wide range of techniques, including: programming and operating automated data loggers, weather stations and environmental sensors; gauging the discharge and chemical composition of glacial streams; manipulating and applying computer-based numerical models; interpreting glaciological features from remotely-sensed images; interpreting sediment/landform associations in glaciated areas. Early in the programme, a week-long field trip to the Swiss Alps will allow you to benefit from exposure to real glaciers. In Semester 1, you take three 20 credit modules, two of which are core (Advanced Research Skills and Glaciological Field Techniques), and one of which is optional (selected from either Spatial Data Acquisition or Fundamentals of Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems). In Semester 2, you take a further two 20 credit core modules (Approaches to Glaciology and Glacial Processes and Products) and one optional 20 credit module selected from a suite of other MSc modules. During Semester 3 (the summer vacation), you undertake a 60 credit Research Dissertation. Data collection for the dissertation can be undertaken in a wide variety of locations around the globe, independently, in association with ongoing staff research programmes, or remotely through analysis of aerial photographs or satellite imagery.

For all four programmes contact: The Postgraduate Admissions Secretary
Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences
University of Wales
Wales, UK
Tel: +44(0)1970 622633

Further information.

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